Make your own free website on Tripod.com
 
The miter fits the Indio: The unique destiny of Jorge I. Barlin

The peacemaking efforts of Barlin was successful in that the Sorsogonense, fired by news of the massacre of Filipinos by Spaniards in nearby towns of Pilar and Panlatuan, allowed their former Spanish masters to leave unmolested. The time period within which Sorsogon was in his hands was characterized by relative peace in spite of the prevailing tension as some Filipino sectors began to take advantage of their new found freedom. The following month, Gen. Ananias Diokno of the Philippine revolutionary Army arrived to assume authority. He was received enthusiastically in Sorsogon as the populace saw for the first time an officer of their Republic. He and his men arrived during the celebrations on the Feast of our Lady of the Rosary, and Padre Barlin honored their arrival with a well-sung Te Deum. Like all the rest of the Bicol clergy, Padre Barlin was supportive of the Malolos Government. Proof of this is that after almost 100 years, the Philippine Revolutionary Records yielded a registry where his name appears as one of the only two clergymen in Bicol registered with the Malolos government4.

The first Republic in Asia ended with the fall of Aguinaldo and the establishment of
 William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft
First American Civil Governor of the Philippines and 34th President of the United States.
American sovereignty in the Philippines. The anti-Spanish sentiment among the Filipinos did not subside with the coming of the Americans. Hostility and violence towards the friars and their superiors were both imagined and real threats. Some Bishoprics and Parishes were being abandoned or left vacant after the death of their occupants. In the case of Nueva Caceres, the See was abandoned by its last Spanish Bishop, Bishop Campo, just before the Spanish capitulation of September, 1898. The Royal Patronage of the Indies which was an instrument by the Spanish crown to appoint Bishops ceased to exist after the turn-over of the Philippines to the Americans. Now appointments must come directly from Rome. The situation of the Philippine Catholic Church in the Philippines presented a problem that needed the attention of the American Civil Government. William H. Taft, the appointed Civil Governor of the Philippines conducted consultations and negotiations with the papal Secretary of the State Cardinal Rampolla to arrive at a solution. The Taft-Rampolla agreement that resulted was simply the withdrawal of the Spanish friars and their superiors so that they can be replaced by their American counterparts. It seemed that after 200 years since the first Filipino priest were ordained5, their new masters considered the Filipino clergymen still unfit to hold positions of power in the church.
 Cardinal Mariano Rampolla
Cardinal Mariano Rampolla
Vatican Secretary of State at the time of the American take-over of the Philippines.

To look after the affairs of the church and oversee the implementation of the Taft-Rampolla Agreement, the Vatican sent Msgr. Luis Placide Chapelle who made an attempt to consult with the native clergy who were now restive and clamoring for the "Filipinization" of the Church. Meanwhile, in northern Luzon, the revolution was taking the form of a religious schism and
 Gregorio Aglipay
Gregorio Aglipay
Supreme Bishop of the Eglesia Filipina Independiente.
rebellion against the church headed by the excommunicated Aglipay. Chapelle failed however, to make any concessions for the native churchmen. The American colonizers considered at this point that any native with a powerful position could be dangerous; and the Spanish Dominicans in Manila probably "oriented" Chapelle on the natives "inferior quality.6"

Msgr. Chapelle was replaced by Msgr. Jean B. Guidi. It was he who broke the age-old condescension upon the native clergy by appointing a native to administer over the see of the Diocese of Nueva Caceres, which had at that time, 107 parishes, 17 parish
 Pope Pius X
Pope Pius X
appointed Barlin the first Philippine Bishop outside of Spain's Royal Patronage of the Indies.
missions, 124 Friar-Parish priests and 148 native priest. From 1902 to 1905 Padre Barlin faithfully discharged his duties as apostolic administrator within which time he received two honors from two popes. Pope Leo XIII made him Papal Chamberlain and his successor, the future saint, Pope Pius X, elevated him to a major dignity, that of Prothonotary Apostolic ad instar participantum,7 These honors were proof that the Filipino clergymen is as capable as any other in the world and meritorious enough to be awarded positions by the head of the Roman Catholic Church.

On November 10, 1902, The Eglesia Filipina Independiente was born and Gregorio Aglipay was elected its first 'Obispo Maximo". Recognizing the respect Barlin commanded among the Bicol Clergy, Aglipay offered him the "Bishopric of Sorsogon".

4John N. Schumacher in his book, Revolutionary Clergy, found this list in the Philippine Revolutionary Records of the Philippine National Archives.

5The first recognizably Filipino priest from the records of Archdiocesan Archives of Manila was Bachiller Don Francisco Baluyot, possibly ordained in 1698. For more extensive reading on the first Filipino priests read: Luciano P.R. Santiago. The Hidden Light: The First Filipino Priest Quezon City: 1987.

6Schumacher, J.N. The Revolutionary Clergy.

7For readings on the events on the life of Bishop Barlin, read; Domingo Abella. Bicol Annals. Vol 1. Manila: 1953.